Weddings celebrate love – the love of two people for each other, the love of families and friends, and also the love of God – the beginning and source of it all. Love makes the world go round. The airwaves are full of songs about love, much of our literature is stories of love, the cinemas are full of romance.
But what is real love? The love we are celebrate at weddings is more than romantic love. Romantic love is a wonderful things, but it is the sort of love that can be here one day and gone the next. A Bible reading popular at weddings – 1 Corinthians 13 – describes true love that is deep-rooted and endures.
Firstly, love should come first
The Bible starts with a love story. In telling us of the very first married couple, Adam and Eve, the Bible explains how it is God’s good plan that “a man must leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife.” Marriage completely re-orders our priorities and commitments. Everything else – hobbies, career – must come second to a marriage.
1 Corinthians 13 says "If I have everything but not love, I have nothing." Love is the most important thing.
A marriage should be a top priority. The wording of the marriage vows is important. Hollywood weddings says “I Do” which suggests the here and now, whereas the response in a wedding is “I Will”, pointing to the future. To love is a decision, an act of will.
And saying “I Will” to love means saying “I Won’t” to some other things. It needs commitment and effort to continue to keep one’s vows, but love is the priority.
Secondly, love is about number two –
the other person in other words
For love to be deep and lasting, it has to be filled with trust and commitment. And especially, it requires us to be quick to say sorry and graciously accept the failures of the other. The longer we know someone, the more faults we discover, and the more opportunity there is to forgive!
Love is about ‘number two’ – our husband or wife in other words. These words from 1 Corinthians 13 make that clear: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in truth. It bears all things endures all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
If that sounds tough, that’s because it is. It is actually impossible, if we try to do it on our own. And that bring me to my third and final point.
Thirdly, love needs a third person involved: God
The Bible, in the book of Ecclesiastes, says,
“A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Eccl 4:12).
The awe-inspiring love that we are celebrate at weddings becomes possible when God is involved. Love like this is a gift from God. God is the one who gives us the ability to love.
Couples at weddings promise to love one another “until death do us part”. The old joke is that ‘marriage’ is not a word, it is a sentence – a life sentence! And that is the Christian understanding of marriage. Just as there is no ending to the circle of gold of a wedding ring, so there should be no ending to the loving in a marriage. As we read in 1 Corinthians 13, love never ends. And if the eternal God of love is part of a marriage, then eternal love becomes a possibility.